Antonia Behan

Antonia Behan

Assistant Professor

Department of Art History and Art Conservation

People Directory Affiliation Category

Research Interests

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century craft and design, especially in relation to industrialism and colonialism in Britain and South Asia; global Arts and Crafts; global and decentered modernisms; textiles and weaving; artisanal epistemologies; history and theory of conservation.


I completed my PhD in Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture at Bard Graduate Center in New York City, supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Award. Previously, I was the Curatorial and Research Fellow for the 2017 Bard Graduate Center and Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London (catalogue: Yale University Press, 2017), and a Research Fellow for the 2021 exhibition Majolica Mania organized by the Bard Graduate Center and the Walters Museum of Art (catalogue: Yale University Press, 2021).

My work focuses on global entanglements in craft and design in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in particular, the global legacies of Arts and Crafts with a focus on South Asia. As a historian of textiles, I am interested in the histories of materials, artisanal knowledge, and the relationship between design history and design practice. In addition to my work in design and craft history, I have experience working in textile collections and conservation and am interested in the history and theory of conservation, especially the intersections of traditional practices and conceptual art.

I teach courses in Global Arts and Crafts, Global Design History, Global Textiles, the Arts of South Asia, and conservation theory for art historians. In my courses, students gain skills in material literacy and studying objects as primary sources.

I am currently working on two projects. My current book project (under contract with Bloomsbury) The Brain of the Machine: Crafting Design in Britain and South Asia 1902–1952 examines the practical and theoretical work of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1946) and his first wife, the English handweaver Ethel Mairet (1872–1952) to bring into focus how craft practice was repositioned in design education in Britain and South Asia in the early twentieth century.

Global Legacies of Arts and Crafts is a project that reconsiders the legacies of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement around the world. Examining cases that expand beyond Euro-American geographies and frameworks, this project expands the study of Arts and Crafts to consider its interrelations with modernism, imperialism, settler colonialism, industrialization, nationalism, and gender by looking at the translation, appropriation, and reinterpretation of Arts and Crafts ideals in global and transnational contexts. For more, see

I also co-founded the Craft History Workshop, a works-in-progress seminar for interdisciplinary histories of making that aims to expand the temporal, geographic, and methodological scope of research in craft history. Please visit



Recent Publications

"Ethel Mairet’s Textile Biotechnics and the Aesthetics of Materials,” Journal of Modern Craft 14, no. 3 (2021) 

Commentary: “Stoffe im Raum” by Otti Berger (1930), Translated by Ethel Mairet (c.1940),” Journal of Modern Craft 14, no. 3 (2021) 

“Interchanged Threads: History and Modernism in Ethel Mairet, the Bauhaus Weavers, and Nikolaus Pevsner,” Sites of Interchange: Modernism, Politics, and Culture between Britain and Germany, 1919–1955, ed. Lucy Wasensteiner (Bern: Peter Lang, 2021) (forthcoming, December 2021)